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Archive for May 16th, 2008

The inevitable conclusion to Celluloid Dreams!

There’s this actor. Young guy, kind of a lunk, but a decent dude. He’s been in We Were Soldiers, Private Ryan, Remember the Titans and a few more (go on, guess!) He formed his own production company and went looking for scripts. He found me, and the tentative dance to option my screenplay began.

As long as the conversation was artist to “artist” (the one in quotations would be me) things were great. But there came a point when he was obligated to pass me off to his agent. From there, it promptly went to hell.

The agent is supposed to make an good faith offer. A dollar figure, and a length of term for the option. Instead, this dude asks what kind of deal I was expecting. Not as in, “what sounds fair to you, Mike?” More like, “Let’s see if this Cincinnati hayseed knows his ass from his elbow.”

Well, of course I didn’t. Sadly, I’m not so sure my attorney did, either. He set out to show this Hollywood douchebag that we weren’t going to get pushed around. By gosh, there are rules and standards for optioning scripts!

Um, yeah. There are rules and standards, except when there aren’t. And a screenwriter… check that, a first-time screenwriter…I mean, a first time screenwriter from Ohio… has no rights, no leverage, and no recourse. It got ugly fast, and the whole deal was incinerated in something like a week. I still have the angry, illiterate rejection email from the agent to my lawyer, and I quote: “your cleint is being terrible naeve.” Which, I suppose I can’t deny.

I tell myself how it would have likely gone down. They would have optioned it for twice the typical term for half the typical money. They would have pissed the time away, not getting funding while making me rewrite the thing six times. And in the end, I’d be back in Ohio with a script I no longer recognized and my option money long gone (I mean, we’re talking hundreds of bucks here.)

But who knows? Maybe I would have been the next Charlie Kaufman. More likely, I would have been that guy who had that one kickass screenplay and you never heard from again. I can’t recall his name.

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